La Straniera: Bellini’s heavenly cantilenas

La straniera - Wikipedia
Henriette Meric-Lalande as Alaidein the original 1829 production

Admittedly, the libretto is so confusing that even the main characters themselves probably do not know who they are, and, with whom, or why, they are doing whatever they are doing. But the music! If angels existed, they would be singing Bellini’s cantilenas from La Straniera for all eternity (can one get bored by that?).

This is even more true because, apart from one or three times, there are no real arias, at least not in the old-fashioned way. It is more of a ‘conversation piece’ with many dialogues and very theatrical long scenes, which nevertheless follow each other in rapid succession.

Bellini composed La Straniera in 1929, three years before Norma and La Sonnambula, and you can already hear some early references  to his most famous music (‘Casta Diva!’). Strangely enough, I can also hear fragments from La Traviata here and there…


All roles are excellently cast. Dari­o Schmunck with his pleasant sounding tenor is particularly suitable as a romantic lover and the lyrical baritone Mark Stone (remember that name!) is a warm-blooded Valdeburgo. The virtuoso mezzo Enkelejda Shkosa sings a moving Isoletta and for Patrizia Ciofi one word suffices: phenomenal.  Nowadays there is no other singer who can sing the role of Alaide better or with more commitment (ORC 38).

Patrizia Ciofi:

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